Moral Compass Spinning

It seems tough to have an accurate moral compass these days.

One of the most recent manifestations of this phenomenon is an article in incredibly poor taste in the Arutz 7 news site.

Some background to the article:

In the past few months the Authority of Enforcement and Collection initiated a new track at Hotza’ah LePoal (the branch responsible for debt collection, similar to the bailiff’s office in other countries) to facilitate collection of unpaid child support.

Here’s the first piece of moral inversion in the article:

 Advocates for family values, fathers’ and children’s rights were dismayed this week when Israeli television and radio stations began running an advertisement on behalf of the Justice Ministry, trumpeting a new fast track that will assist women in collecting overdue child support payments from their former husbands.

Really? Advocates of “Family Values” and “Children’s Rights” were dismayed by an ad that helps women put food on the tables for their children? Which advocates? And about which particular family values are they dismayed?

To advertise this service and encourage people to make use of it, they agency produced this video:

I’ve encouraged women owed child support to use this service over the few months since its inception, and am  impressed by the efficiency and professionalism of the process.

But, here comes Arutz 7 and paints women trying to support their children as a bunch of militants, living high off the hog at the expense of their children’s fathers. Or perhaps the real point of the article was to use these women – and their children – merely as a platform to bash one of their none-too-favorite politicians, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

Never mind that in doing so the plight of children (not women!) depending on child support payments is distorted. In fact, we are told that the real victims here are the fathers paying child support.

One may argue about whether dressing the mothers in army uniforms was in good taste or even the best way to advertise the service. However, there is no doubt that many mothers struggling to make sure there is enough money to pay the rent – to say nothing of making it through the month – feel that every day is a battle.

Along these lines, the only criticism I have of the video is that the lives of many of the women and children I represent don’t look quite so pretty; they aren’t attending ballet lessons even when the fathers are paying child support, since there just isn’t enough money for lessons of that sort and the supermarkets in which they shop don’t look quite so squeaky clean.

Not only does the article fail to even attempt a serious discussion about child support and the failure to pay, but what purports to be an objective news source turns itself into a shill for “father’s rights” groups. With no criticism or fact-checking, the author simply parrots the message of anonymous “father’s rights” groups:

An angry divorced father was quick to edit and upload a counter-video, which speaks about the plight of divorced fathers, who fight to give their children a good home despite having to pay for two households. “For years, you fought for the country,” says the narrator. “Now – the state fights you. Mothers in uniform declare war on you. The ammunition – children. The weapon – courtesy of the state.”

So now, once again, the mothers are where they should be – the bad guys, destroying homes and the very fabric of the State of Israel.

What can I say? It’s a new low, and Arutz 7 should be ashamed.

If Israeli courts reward higher amounts of child support than other countries – and I don’t trust the statistics cited in the article, with no links to any sources –  then that speaks highly for a society which cares about its children’s welfare. At the same time, the steps we take to enforce the child support payments are far less draconian than some other countries, or at least the United States.

When there is not enough money to divide one  home that is limping along financially into two homes, there is never a perfect answer as to how to determine child support.

There is however, a range of reasons for why fathers end up having child support decisions enforced in Hotza’ah le’Poal, and they don’t always have to do with the father not having enough money to make the payments. Not infrequently, non-payment is simply another to make life unpleasant for the mother raising the children on her own. It’s the old – “I’ll do anything for my children but SHE won’t get a penny from me.”

As a free piece of advice I heartily recommend the new service at Hotza’ah LePoal for those owed child support. They are doing a great job, and providing an important service  –  for the kids.

This entry was posted in Children, Divorce, Life in Israel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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